Archive for lad lit

Houellebecq’s Lanzarote: talk about a waste of time

Posted in book, Ken Barris, review, richard kunzmann, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2009 by richardkunzmann

I judge a book by its cover; I also judge it by its author and what he or she has written before, which is why I picked up Lanzarote, along with the rest of Houellebecq’s work, after reading that mind-blowing novel Atomised. Atomised

Except, in retrospect I should perhaps read some Amazon reviews first.

What an utterly shit book this is! I cannot express myself strong enough, more so because I feel betrayed by the standard I’ve come to expect from Houellebecq. I feel more betrayed than I did by the last two volumes of Stephen King’s Gunslinger series. We’re talking about simple trading standards here. When I buy a Mercedes I certainly don’t expect to have a Skoda dumped at my door.

LanzaroteLanzarote begins with an interesting take on the tourism industry: it’s not only about escapism; its existence is evidence of how sad we’ve become that we must flock to some destination to derive meaning from life. The protagonist’s life is utterly void of something to do, so he flies to Lanzarote without knowing exactly what he wants to do there either. On the island he meets Rudi, a police officer from Luxembourg, who also doesn’t quite know what to do with himself. Thus, two pessimists become a pair, though they aren’t particularly fond of each, and you guessed it … they don’t really know what to do around each other.

The landscape of Lanzarote, and the cheap tourist dives along its coast, come to embody that empty inner world. When the two men meet two German lesbians who are up for a straight shag with the protagonist, one gets a sense of how far reduced all their lives have become. Like hamsters in a cage, fucking in the boring expanse of sawdust, just to while away the time. Michel Houellebecq

Fine, fine, fine. I can see all that. But if you’re going to write a novel and charge me £6 for it, please just make it’s about something. A ninety page diatribe on boredom and the emptiness of our human pursuits is, well, boring. The best part of this ridiculous novella is the colour photos.

A book that is more meaningful and in a similar vein is Ken Barris’s What Kind of Child. Not the greatest, but similar themes, a similar mood of perpetual melancholy, and oh so much more readable.

And if you don’t trust me on this one, check out the ratings on Amazon and Goodreads.


Review: Booty Nomad, Scott Mebus

Posted in book, Helen Fielding, Kathy Lette, review with tags , , , , , , , on April 13, 2009 by richardkunzmann

booty-nomad Sometimes you just gotta grab something completely out there, a book you’d never pick up on your trip to the bookstore, and be pleasantly surprised by it’s entertainment value. This is one such book.

Novelists like Helen Fielding and Kathy Lette introduced us to post-modernist women, successful at work, somewhat neurotic, looking for love, sex and a chance to escape the rat race. Chic Lit was born and men were left high and dry as the girls stayed home to have serious fun in bed … with a book or television show. At first men scoffed and huffed as they reached for the remote control and another chilled beer – Chick Lit was yet another of those incomprehensible things women do. Then the metrosexuals figured they weren’t that dissimilar and “Lad Lit” was born.

David has just dumped the girl he loves, not entirely sure why, but completely sure that he wasn’t happy with her. Thus the pain, the loneliness, and the dating game begins. While the Eater of Souls continually plucks at his conscience, he meets women whom he can never remember by anything else but their nicknames: Bendy Girl, Opera Girl, Relapse Girl, and lastly, The Goddess. Stressing about his job producing a puppet show, David often puts both feet in his mouth as he pursues happiness and love at all cost. The stretch where he swallows mushrooms on a camping outing with his boss, and his encounter with Dungeons & Dragons obsessed goth girls are truly hilarious.

Booty Nomad is a prime example of what a good beach book, bath book, or just a plain lie-in-bed-the-whole-of-Sunday book should be. It’s funny and sad; it’s honest about the lives that cosmopolitan twenty to thirty something men lead. Sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, with a lot of hankering for love thrown in. This, aside from the booze and embarrassments, of course. We can identify with the characters, and we laugh at the mess David gets himself into, because we’re only too glad it’s someone else doing it for a change.

Booty Nomad leaves us feeling better about our own lives. It’s all utterly escapist, sometimes totally forgettable, but that’s no reason not to enjoy the ride. – MacMillan